U.S. Artist Claims Buzzy Israeli Trump Book’s Cover Was Copied From Him

Edel Rodriguez claims the book jacket of Barak Ravid’s ‘Trump’s Peace’ was copied from an illustration he created for TIME magazine, but the Israeli designer of the book says the resemblance is close, but not identical

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Left: Edel Rodriguez's illustration on the cover of TIME Magazine. Right: The cover of Barak Ravid's new book on Trump.
Left: Edel Rodriguez's illustration on the cover of TIME Magazine. Right: The cover of Barak Ravid's new book on Trump.
Naama Riba
Naama Riba

A Cuban-American graphic artist has alleged that the cover design of the new book by Israeli journalist Barak Ravid about former U.S. President Donald Trump was copied from an illustration he created for Time magazine in 2018.

Edel Rodriguez made the accusation following last Friday’s publication in Israel of “Trump’s Peace: The Abraham Accords and the Reshaping of the Middle East.” The book caused a stir globally when Trump was quoted in it as saying “Fuck him” about ex-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following the latter’s acknowledgement of Joe Biden’s victory last November.

The internationally renowned Rodiguez has designed images of Trump for Time and the German newsweekly Der Spiegel on a number of occasions. He claims that the cover for Ravid’s new book, published by Yedioth Books, is based on his famous Time magazine cover from January 2018.

Edel Rodriguez's illustration on the cover of TIME Magazine published in January 2018.

In the Time illustration, Trump is seen wearing a black suit and red tie, with mouth agape and hair portrayed as giant yellow flames rising upward. The open mouth is a recurring theme in a number of Rodriguez’s Trump illustrations.

The cover of Ravid’s book was designed by the Tel Aviv-based Pini Hamou studio. On the book jacket, Trump’s open mouth is like the one Rodriguez used, but the flaming hair is replaced by a map of the Middle East. The color palette is similar, with its shades of yellow, orange and red. The portrayal of the ex-president’s face on the Time cover and Ravid’s book cover are without doubt similar.

Pini Hamou refused to respond when asked by Haaretz whether he had downloaded Rodriguez’s image of Trump, which had been placed on the stock images website Shutterstock by an anonymous user. Hamou did say, however, that the two images were close but not identical.

The cover of journalist Barak Ravid's new book on Trump.

Officials at Yedioth Books said the matter was still under investigation, while Ravid declined to comment, referring Haaretz back to the publisher.

Speaking with Haaretz, Rodiguez said he would like to settle the issue out of court. “My work became very well-known during the Trump years, and has been stolen many times. I call people out so that they correct the issue,” he said.

Ravid “can contact me and pay me a fee for the use of my work. I think it’s the right thing to do, especially for a journalist like him,” Rodriguez added. “This has happened to me other times with publishers in other countries in the Middle East. But I’m hoping that an author in Israel will take the issue of plagiarism more seriously and do the right thing.”

Journalist Barak Ravid.

“Many [people] with good reputations apologize and make changes,” Rodriguez said, noting that he and Time magazine’s legal department had asked Shutterstock to remove the image from its database, so far unsuccessfully. “My work is well-known enough that any legitimate book company that uses it should know the original source,” he said.

Time magazine and Der Spiegel both have a readership in Israel, Rodriguez said. “If he publishes that cover in the United States, he will likely have legal issues from Time. He’s been made aware of the issue and should correct it,” he said in apparent reference to Ravid, although Rodriguez acknowledged that he had not contacted the author directly. “I’m just making the writer aware of the issues. He should be the one writing a letter of explanation to me. [I] haven’t heard a thing from him.”

Rodriguez said he would contact Time magazine this week to deal with the matter.

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